Britain honours Indian soldiers who fought bravely in World War I. But India did nothing. Aren’t we proud of our soldiers?
11/26/2014 3:44:01 PM
|written By : Ashali Varma|
Risaldar Badlu Singh, Sepoy Chatta Singh, Naik Darwan Singh Negi, Rifleman Gabar Singh Negi, Lance-Daffadar Gobind Singh and Lance Naik Lala are names that not many Indians would connect with. They are Indian soldiers who won the highest award for courage in battle given by the British in World War I, the Victoria Cross - a bronze coloured medal with the words ‘For Valour’, inscribed on it. While our own government and country seems to ignore their contribution, the British Government has chosen not to forget them or the soldiers from India who helped win World War I.
The total number of military and civilian casualties in the Great War was over 37 million. There were over 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history. Around 1.4 million soldiers were from the Indian sub-continent, of which 74,187 were killed in numerous battlefields around the world from France and Belgium to Aden, Arabia, East Africa, Gallipoli, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Persia, Salonica Russia and even China. They were awarded 9,200 decorations including 11 Victoria Crosses, six of which were earned by soldiers from what is now India. Mahatma Gandhi encouraged Indians to volunteer to fight as he felt that this would help towards getting India independence from British rule.
Thus India contributed not only men and material but £100 million as well. The war had a great impact in India as it led to the development of technical branches and also organisational reforms in the Indian Army, including an officer corps consisting of Indians and the formation of the Indian Air Force.
In addition, the courage and discipline of Indian soldiers was recognised. It is an undisputed fact that the arrival of the Indian Corps of two infantry and two cavalry divisions in France at a most critical juncture of the war helped in beating back the German attempt to overrun France and reach the ports along the Channel in 1914.